I am a Vietnam, combat-wounded veteran who is permanently and totally disabled. I am trying to determine how much of my VA benefits my wife of 41 years will receive after I die. I have a disability rating from VA of 80 percent. However, I am paid at the 100 percent rate due to Individual Unemployability (IU). Also, will the benefits available to my wife be different if my death isn’t related to my service-connected disability?
When a veteran dies from a service-connected disability, that veteran’s surviving spouse, children, and under some conditions, parents are eligible for dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) from VA. DIC is a monthly payment made to a surviving spouse, child, or parent because of a service-connected death.
A spouse must establish entitlement to DIC under one of these conditions:
- the veteran died on active military service; or
- the veteran had a service-connected disability that was either the principal or contributing cause of death; or
- the veteran died from a non-service-connected injury or disease and was receiving, or entitled to receive, VA compensation for a service-connected disability rated totally disabling for at least (a) 10 years before death, (b) at least 5 years after the release from active duty preceding death, or (c) at least 1 year before death, if the veteran was a former prisoner of war who died after September 30, 1999.
In your situation, your wife would be eligible for DIC if your cause of death was primarily due to your service-connected disability. If you have been rated permanently and totally disabled for at least 10 years, then your wife would also be eligible for DIC, even if your death was the result of a non-service-connected injury or disease. In addition to DIC, your wife would also be eligible for VA’s health benefits program for beneficiaries, CHAMPVA.
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